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Indigenous Communities of the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh: Coping with Environmental Perils and Scoping Adaptive Capacities

Chapter
Part of the Communication, Culture and Change in Asia book series (CCCA, volume 6)

Abstract

A majority of the Bangladeshi population identify themselves as ‘Bengalis’ and practise similar culture and religion. Yet, there is a section of the country’s populace that has distinct identities. There are about 3 million non-Bengali citizens, scattered in the remaining patches of natural forests hills and plain lands such as the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHTs), coastal areas and the Barind Tract (dry-lands). The most prominent groups include Mongoloid natives from over 11 indigenous communities inhabiting the Himalayan foothills of CHTs. Bangladesh is often discussed in the terms of natural disasters and accidents in garment factories; however, the indigenous communities in the CHTs face a unique set of environmental and social problems. The CHTs, administered differently from the rest of the country, have experienced a ‘low-intensity armed conflict’, for about two decades. They are also experiencing deforestation, decline in soil fertility, loss of plant and animal species and militarization and land grabbing. Against this backdrop, this chapter presents the environmental perils faced by the indigenous communities of Thanchi upazila of the Bandarban Hill District (a sub-district that houses several communities) and discusses their adaptive capacity and potential for sustainable development. This chapter also discusses the ground realities and predicaments of environmental change impacting indigenous communities. Since environmental problems in the CHTs cannot be separated from socio-political factors, this chapter also recommends strategies for sustainable development in the region, addressing issues of environment, health, livelihood security, biodiversity conservation and education.

Keywords

Environment Indigenous Forest Biodiversity Culture Development CHTs/Bangladesh 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Environmentalist and Freelance ConsultantDhakaBangladesh
  2. 2.Program OfficerRECOFTCBangkokThailand

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